Questions on unwritten rules of Personal Statements

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Kitsune
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Questions on unwritten rules of Personal Statements

Postby Kitsune » Sat Oct 19, 2013 1:49 pm

Hello all! I have some general questions about writing a personal statement. I would appreciate if you could answer some or all of them. Seriously, if you want to just answer one, that would be better than zero.

1. Fonts: I was told not to use Times or anything with serifs. I wrote some of my essays in Times 12, but when I changed them to Ariel or whatever, the essay increased in size. Can I shrink it to 11.5 or 11?

2. Is it anathema to include bad things from your past in your main personal statement? Normally these would, of course, be included in an addendum. However, in some instances, I want to be forthright and use them in my main statement, in order to show how I overcame obstacles. Also, if I choose to do this, and covered what I learned from the experience and how it made me want to get into law, should I leave the addendum blank? I do not want to repeat myself (rookie mistake), but I don't want to leave it blank either...

3. Is it OK to refer to other parts of the application in certain sections. For example, if I wanted to say, "I was in dire straits because of bah blah. **insert one more sentence about overcoming that obstacle here**. The attached addendum describes these challenges in more detail." Basically I am asking, can you talk about other parts of the app in a different part, or should they all be stand-alone?

4. Are there any other mistakes that you think I should avoid or any suggestions that you think I should incorporate?

Thanks much!


Kitsune
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Re: Questions on unwritten rules of Personal Statements

Postby Kitsune » Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:58 pm

Thanks for the quick response. I had not yet seen the Yale blog source yet. I know including information that would be considered bad in your main statement is usually a bad idea, but I am really only going to use that format for one application in which the format almost calls for it.

I'll read that site for a bit. If I cannot find more, I will post again and hope you all can assist me!

Thanks much.

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drawstring
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Re: Questions on unwritten rules of Personal Statements

Postby drawstring » Sat Oct 19, 2013 4:33 pm

I've usually seen Times as the recommended font.

Kitsune
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Re: Questions on unwritten rules of Personal Statements

Postby Kitsune » Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:51 pm

My first instinct was to use Times, but this school told me not to use it. I suppose I just won't for them then. I have heard just use a legible font; it doesn't actually matter as long as it's not something like Jokerman ITC.

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wowhio
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Re: Questions on unwritten rules of Personal Statements

Postby wowhio » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:48 am

Don't use Ariel. Everyone hates Ariel. Times is good. If you want to be fancy, Garamond or something.

Also, I thought the general consensus was that you should use a font with serifs. They make it easier to read.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Questions on unwritten rules of Personal Statements

Postby rinkrat19 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:02 am

Whoever told you not to use Times or any other serif font is an utter moron. Serif fonts are pretty much the universal standard for printed text, ESPECIALLY in an academic setting; sanserif is ok for on-screen text. There is no law school in the universe that will penalize you for using Times New Roman. There are, however, schools that will not appreciate you using Arial.

I suspect whoever told you this actually didn't know what they were talking about, were parroting something someone else had told them, and were getting it backwards.

Trajectory
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Re: Questions on unwritten rules of Personal Statements

Postby Trajectory » Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:14 am

So I have a question as well, font-wise it seems Times is good, but what about size? 11-12? I had 12, realized I could get a tad bit more space with 11. Is that too little?

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rinkrat19
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Re: Questions on unwritten rules of Personal Statements

Postby rinkrat19 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:17 am

Trajectory wrote:So I have a question as well, font-wise it seems Times is good, but what about size? 11-12? I had 12, realized I could get a tad bit more space with 11. Is that too little?

11 is ok unless a school requests 12 (there are a few that do). Don't go smaller than 11, except on your resume if you need to do 10.5 or so. You can also try Garamond, which is a bit narrower than Times but still very standard (again, unless a school requests TNR).

Keep your margins 1" all around, and remember to double-space.

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hephaestus
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Re: Questions on unwritten rules of Personal Statements

Postby hephaestus » Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:19 am

You can talk about bad things from your past, but I would not make it the focus. This should not read like a C&F disclosure. If you do, make sure that there is some payoff to doing so. For example, that you accomplished X goal because of learning from Y mistake.

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patfeeney
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Re: Questions on unwritten rules of Personal Statements

Postby patfeeney » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:28 pm

Regarding these "unwritten rules"...
What seems to be the go-to policy on narrative leeway? I have a number of events I want to cover in my statement but they each occurred over a period of time. I don't plan to lie about when these things happened - that would be unethical - but would it be unethical to order them in my paper according to their narrative importance/ where they fit structurally?

For example, I have three events: two that occurred at one job I had but happened with a year in between, and a third at a second job that happened in between the other two. Would it be unethical, for narrative purposes, to talk about events one and two together, followed by three? Or would it be better to write chronologically?

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rinkrat19
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Re: Questions on unwritten rules of Personal Statements

Postby rinkrat19 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:46 pm

patfeeney wrote:Regarding these "unwritten rules"...
What seems to be the go-to policy on narrative leeway? I have a number of events I want to cover in my statement but they each occurred over a period of time. I don't plan to lie about when these things happened - that would be unethical - but would it be unethical to order them in my paper according to their narrative importance/ where they fit structurally?

For example, I have three events: two that occurred at one job I had but happened with a year in between, and a third at a second job that happened in between the other two. Would it be unethical, for narrative purposes, to talk about events one and two together, followed by three? Or would it be better to write chronologically?

Don't SAY they happened in A,D,C,B order, but you can certainly talk about them out of order. There's no rule that says you must only write chronologically. It needs to make sense as a written piece.

Also, if you find yourself trying to cram a lot of events into a PS, be careful you're not just resume- or biography-dumping. One event in detail is better than a bullet point list of your life or career.




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